Big banks must adopt a long-term view when backing digital start-ups, says Mettle boss

By John Reynolds on Thursday 24 June 2021

Digital Banking

Marieke Flament, Mettle CEO, said the likes of Monzo and Klarna had taken time to become success stories, backed by signifiant funding.

Big banks must adopt a long-term view when backing digital start-ups, says Mettle boss
Image source: AltFi.

Big banks backing digital startups need to take a “long-term” view of the potential of their start-ups if they are to make them a success, according to the CEO of Natwest-backed Mettle.

Marieke Flament, Mettle CEO, said: “One of the challenges is, if you look at, you know, budgets as they are done within a bank, you expect an immediate return on investment.”

But she said if banks want to “innovate and invest” they have to adopt a longer-term approach.

Mettle is a business bank that was launched by RBS group-owned NatWest as a digital-only offering for business banking customers in 2019.

Its stablemate digital challenger Bó  was axed by RBS last year after just five months, with the Bó platform being integrated into Mettle.

Flament said NatWest holds a long-term view to the potential of start-ups it was supporting.

Flament said that “If you don’t have an approach that is different, if you expect immediate return on investment” it will be “very difficult” for big banks to compete with fintechs, whose financial backers take a long term view of the potential fintech and are prepared to support it with up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Flament pointed to the likes of Starling Bank, Monzo, and Klarna, which she said have built their brands over a long period of time with long-term investment in them.

“When people look at Klarna, it’s a major success OK, but how long did it take to get there and what’s the investment that took?”

Flament was speaking on a panel with, Jonathan Rouse, regional vice president of sales, EMEA at nCino and Catherine Zhou, global head of venture, digital, innovation and partnerships at HSBC.

Asked whether big banks could catch up with neo banks with the nimbleness of their offerings, Rouse said “all the big banks have got to do is try to not get too concerned by the huge legacy of the structure they have. That is what it is, that will be what it will be.

The big banks, Rouse advises, should launch a “quick” and “nimble” startup on the side, which can win new clients.



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